It does not matter where in the US that I go, or the world, in all honesty, I am drawn to the national parks. I recently was in Front Royal, Virgina for MAWMR as a keynote speaker and while there I filled my time with event items and also took in the unlimited miles offered by my rental car and saw some sites.
Every year, when I enter a park for the first time, I always buy the $80.00 America the Beautiful annual pass. It gives you access to the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands of more than 2000 sites. I bought this when I was on my year long journey as I would see so many places, and now again and it has almost paid for itself just in my week with two parks (well worth it as some parks ar $30 entrance, it is worth it).
It has been two years since I last ventured into the Shenandoah National Park, and this time with four wheels. Although I must recommend the two-wheeled riding of Skyline Drive, the park itself hold endless beauty and expansive views. It was the perfect place to pop over from the event and have a picnic lunch while looking out into the valley.
I also found a day to spend at Harper’s Ferry; this was my first visit and well worth the historic site! Although the humidity was high and the day was hot, I spent 4.5 hours walking and hiking the site. At Bolivar Heights, I caught it just in time for the afternoon talk on the importance of this Civil War engagement area. From the parking, if you walk about 1/4 mile you will have views that open up to the W. Virginia location you stand on, to the right Virgina and the left Maryland – all within one picture window!
From there I took the bus into the lower town where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet and the town was erected. “In the force of these rushing waters, George Washinton envisioned military strength and chose Harpers Ferry as the site for the US Armory. Here abolitionist John Brown struck a blow against slavery, and soon the Civil War trapped the town between North and South.”
The rivers played a crucial part in powering the armories and factories that popped up along the waterways, and some of the original buildings still stand, while others are rock outlines. I also took in a stroll along the riverside path and climbed to the Vista where it meets up with the long distance Appalachian Trail and the railroad (which trains still run through the historic tunnel!)
While the sites were fantastic, the heat was getting to me and when you are in the east coast heat topped with humidity – you can only do one thing! Air conditioning and a scoop of pralines icecream!